Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has denied that he hates the Niger Delta region or any part of the country.
He was responding to leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Ijaw National Congress, Chief Edwin Clark’s accusation that his disdain for the people of Niger Delta has not waned.
Obasanjo had claimed at an event organised by the Global Peace Foundation (GPF) that the oil in the Niger Delta was deposited by God and therefore, belonged to all Nigerians.
But his comments drew widespread criticisms from the Afenifere, Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle-Belt Forum.
Clark had said the groups will take a critical look at any invitation to attend future state-of-the-nation dialogue, especially if convened by the former president.
According to Clark, Obasanjo’s comment was ‘unstatesmanlike’ and smacked of hatred for the people of the oil-rich region.
The former president in a six-page letter titled: “My response to the open letter by Clark” obtained by The Nation said: “Let me proceed with the most basic constitutional fact that you cannot have two entities in a sovereign state.
“I have never shown any anger, distraught with Niger Delta region nor any part of Nigeria.
“You use your own yardstick to judge others. I hope you think and adjust. Negotiation achieves better results than dictation.
“Revolution for sea-change may rarely happen and then we may continue to languish in frustration and regret with dire judgment in posterity.”
Obasanjo added that his records before and after the civil war in Niger Delta Region was without blemish and it was all goodness and goodwill to all the people of Nigeria and Niger Delta.
“But if you take my holding a constitutional position on federalism and reiterating the position of our past past constitution – 1963 Constitution as I understand it as anger or grievance against the Niger Delta or Nigeria Delta people that will be a very wrong position to take because until I can be legally and constitutional persuaded, otherwise i will continue to hold my ground.”
Obasanjo noted that the 1963 Constitution did not confer ownership of oil and other mineral resources on any of the then regions.
“Some of the languages you have deployed to describe me in your letter are offensive, uncouth and I totally and completely reject them.
“I am not inconsistent, hypocritical, un-statesman, and nor am I anybody’s lackey. You use you own yardstick to judge others.
“I fear God and I respect those who respect themselves and I hope it is about time you change from a tribesman to a statesman,” Obasanjo added.
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